The stock of Northstar Neuroscience, Inc., a Seattle, WA company, floated today on the Nasdaq, seems to be doing pretty well. The company is developing an implantable device system intended to enhance neuroplasticity and recovery of function in patients status post stroke.
Following a stroke, the only proven treatment currently available for patients with hemiparesis (motor deficits) or aphasia (speech deficits) is rehabilitative therapy. Unfortunately, many patients do not achieve satisfactory functional improvement from rehabilitative therapy. There is considerable evidence that the brain can undergo significant repair and recovery after an injury such as a stroke by a process termed neuroplasticity.
As reported in numerous scientific publications, neuroplasticity involves the recruitment of existing alternative neural pathways and the development of new synaptic connections, i.e., reorganization of the brain circuitry. Within hours after a stroke, the brain will begin to recruit existing alternative neural pathways in an attempt to meet functional demands. Over time and with use, there is an increase in the density of connections between the neurons that comprise these neural pathways. However, natural gains in motor recovery and speech generally plateau within several months after a stroke, with many stroke survivors achieving only minimal recovery of function…
Together, we have demonstrated that cortical stimulation of the healthy brain tissue adjacent to the “stroke,” in combination with rehabilitation, enhances motor recovery and suggests that cortical stimulation for stroke patients may facilitate neuroplasticity…
The Northstar Stroke Recovery System is comprised of the following components:
— Implantable pulse generator (IPG) – an electrical stimulator that is implanted in the pectoral (upper chest) area.
— Cortical stimulation lead – an electrode connected to the IPG, which is used to deliver stimulation to the cortex. The electrode is placed on top of the dura, which is the membrane that covers the brain’s surface.
— Programming system – a handheld computer attached to a programming device which allows communication with the implanted IPG device. This system allows the clinician to turn the device on/off and to set/modify stimulation parameters
The product page…